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Canberra hosting Mars Rover Tweetup

By Gungahlin Al 23 November 2011 7


Anyone interested in the launch of the new bigger, smarter, faster Mars rover Curiosity this weekend (2am Sunday) may be interested to know there’s a Canberra connection to the launch.

The Canberra Deep Space Communications Centre (or Tidbinbilla Tracking Station to locals) will be hosting a “Tweetup” of 50 lucky NASA/CSIRO Twitter followers at the centre for three days before and after the launch.

A Tweetup is something that NASA does to bring supporters together for an ‘inside view’ of an event – usually launches of the Space Shuttle and other missions. The tweeting of event commentary by participants extends the reach of the information virally to their followers and leads to an amazingly large audience. This is the first time a NASA co-sponsored Tweetup has been held in the Southern Hemisphere. Tweeps will be inside the centre witnessing the launch, and the first in-orbit signals to be received from the launch rocket will be via CDCC.

The local Tweetup program includes talks with leading scientists who have been involved in the science going into the Curiosity experiments, telescope viewing, and more. It’s three days of geeky science overload and I’m stoked to be one of the 50 – I’m @alankerlin. You can also listen to a 10-minute CSIRO podcast about the event.

You can follow the proceedings, see photos etc via the hashtag #CSIROTweetup, or the similar event at the launch at Kennedy Space Centre itself via #NASATweetup. You can also watch the launch live via – look for the HD stream link on the left side of the screen if you have a good connection – looks gorgeous plugged into your big screen TV, with the volume cranked at launch time.

If you are interested in hearing about other events that may come up in the future, follow @CSIROnews

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Canberra hosting Mars Rover Tweetup
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Gungahlin Al 9:52 am 28 Nov 11

Great coverage of the Tweetup in the Sunday Times:
Thanks CT.

It was a great weekend. Dining with the geologist involved in selecting every Mars Rover landing site to date. Talking with a lead scientist for Australia’s Square Kilometre Array bid. Checking out the Tracking Station control centre in action. Watching twin dishes simultaneously slewing as they tracked the Mars Rover during its critical final booster rocket separation as it hit escape velocity on its way to Mars. And watching all 4000 tonnes of the 40m main dish pull a beautiful smooth 180 degree turn. And having to hold our (Twitter) tongues on things we found out before the rest of the world, so NASA could make the official announcements first.

And sharing the launch itself, which went flawlessly.

If you want to tap into it all, just search on #CSIROTweetup at I don’t think you need to sign up to do this.

Thanks CSIRO and NASA! We can’t wait to get together again for the landing in August.

GardeningGirl 11:52 pm 26 Nov 11

Thanks for posting this! Looks like I won’t be having an early night.

Gungahlin Al 8:23 pm 26 Nov 11

All of our guests for the tweetup have been having a great time and had a good tour this morning in nice weather of the Tidbinbilla complex.

We saw two of the dishes – including the 70m 4000 tonne main dish – in action swinging around to lock onto new targets (with a disappointing lack of theatrical grinding and groaning). Several keynote speakers have had great stories to tell about the various space research projects they are working on out of the local facilities.

Probably the pick has been Marion Anderson, who has been involved in selection of the landing sites for every Mars Rover to date, including Curiosity.

So now after a barby at Casaurina Sands, we are back at CDCC and ready to witness the launch of Curiosity and the first signals after launch coming in via this facility.

This nuclear-powered, laser-toting, one-tonne, $2.5 billion semi-autonomous robot will be launched in a window opening at 2.02am tonight. Viewing details above.

Gungahlin Al 12:46 pm 25 Nov 11

Just about ready to leave for three days at Tidbinbilla Tracking Station for the Tweetup for the Mars Rover launch.

Don’t forget – interested tweeps can tag along via #CSIROTweetup.

Gungahlin Al 3:51 pm 23 Nov 11

T minus 48 hours to Tweetup commences.

A pity the weather is looking a bit dodgy. We were hoping to fit in some telescope time while around the back of the mountains and away from the rotten Canberra light pollution. Jupiter is looking huge right overhead at present. (PS: the Red Spot will be visible tonight 8″ scope should see it.)

Solidarity 1:22 pm 23 Nov 11

Man I would have loved to see it but i’m not someone who uses Twatter…. boo.

martyo 1:07 pm 23 Nov 11

I’m one of the lucky 50 tweeps also 🙂 If your interested we have set up a flickr stream and will be posting from the CDSCC –

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